Soil classification has traditionally been developed by combining the interpretation of taxonomic rules that are related to soil information with the pedologist's tacit knowledge. Hence, a more quantitative approach is necessary to characterize soils with less subjectivity. The objective of this study was to develop a soil grouping system based on spectral, climate, and terrain variables with the aim of establishing a quantitative way of classifying soils. Spectral data were utilized to obtain information about the soil, and this information was complemented by climate and terrain variables in order to simulate the pedologist knowledge of soil-environment interactions. We used a data set of 2287 soil profiles from five Brazilian regions. The soil classes of World Reference Base (WRB) system were predicted using the three above-mentioned variables, and the results showed that they were able to correctly classify the soils with an overall accuracy of 88 %. To derive the new system, we applied the spectral, climatic, and terrain variables, which - using cluster analysis - defined eight groups; thus, these groups were not generated by the traditional taxonomic method but instead by grouping areas with similar characteristics expressed by the variables indicated. They were denominated as "soil environment groupings" (SEGs). The SEG system facilitated the identification of groups with equivalent characteristics using not only soil but also environmental variables for their distinction. Finally, the conceptual characteristics of the eight SEGs were described. The new system has been designed to incorporate applicable soil data for agricultural management, to require less interference from personal/subjective/empirical knowledge (which is an issue in traditional taxonomic systems), and to provide more reliable automated measurements using sensors.